A Denver Post columnist accused the paper of being blind to “hyper-political correctness” after he was fired for writing his editors found “too insensitive.”
Jon Caldara has written for the Denver Post since 2016 but announced that he was fired after he repeatedly wrote there are only “two sexes” and defended free speech, suggesting that the newspaper had censored him.
In a Facebook post last week linking to his “last piece for the Denver Post as a weekly columnist,” Caldara noted that the decision to let him was made by Editorial Editor Megan Schrader, someone he described as “one of the sweetest, most heartfelt people I know.”
“I’ll miss the friendly arguments the most. Megan is and will be a good friend,” he wrote, adding that she and Editor and Chief Lee Ann Colacioppo “inherited a shrinking and sinking newspaper in crisis” which they have since steadied.
“The reason for my firing is over a difference in style. Not to put words in her mouth but Megan found my writing too insensitive. And yes, it is,” Caldara wrote.
“My column is not a soft voiced, sticky sweet NPR-styled piece which employs the language now mandated by the victim-centric, identity politics driven media,” he added, noting that “plain talk that doesn’t conform to the newspeak law of ‘use only the words mandated by the perpetually offended’ is labeled as ‘mean spirited’ and banned.”
“What seemed to be the last straw for my column was my insistence that there are only two sexes and my frustration that to be inclusive of the transgendered (even that word isn’t allowed) we must lose our right to free speech,” Caldara explained.
In a column earlier this month, he accused the Associated Press of “activism” for a directive in the AP Stylebook which said that sex and gender are not binary.
“There are only two sexes, identified by an XX or XY chromosome. That is the very definition of binary. The AP ruling it isn’t so doesn’t change science. It’s a premeditative attempt to change culture and policy. It’s activism,” he wrote in the Jan. 3 column.
My latest for @denverpost. The Associated Press not only protects the progressive #bias of the media, it actively promotes it. Read this and tell me I’m wrong. Or if you’re progressive, just tell me I’m wrong without reading it. https://t.co/oTuTYcSQUN #copolitics #coleg
— Jon Caldara (@JonCaldara) January 4, 2020
He touched on the theme again in a January 9 column where he addressed a 2019 Colorado law requiring that transgender ideology be taught to elementary school children.
“Some parents weren’t thrilled a couple of years back when during school their little ones in Boulder Valley School District were treated to videos staring [sic] a transgender teddy bear teaching the kids how to misuse pronouns or when Colorado’s ‘Trans Community Choir’ sang to kids about a transgender raven,” Caldara wrote. “What are the protections for a parent who feels transgender singing groups and teddy bears with gender dysphoria might be ‘stigmatizing’ for their kid?”
Caldara, who is president of the libertarian Independence Institute think tank and clear that he is no fan of President Trump, asserted in his Facebook post that he is “strongly pro-gay marriage” and doesn’t care “who uses whose bathroom, what you wear, or how you identify.”
“But to force us to use inaccurate pronouns, to force us to teach our kids that there are more than two sexes, to call what is plainly a man in a dress, well, not a man in a dress violates our right of speech,” he wrote.
“YOU are free to wear a dress, and quite sincerely, more power to you! That’s power over your own self. You are sovereign,” he added. “And so am I. Which means YOU cannot choose my words. Our words are now chosen by the press, and our kids’ words are being mandated at school.”
He recalled a time when liberals in the press “fought hard to protect free speech” but now “fight hard to mandate speech” to keep people from being offended.
“It’s okay people get offended. In fact, I encourage it. It means we are being challenged. It’s not hate speech. It’s speech. It used to be the press was all about,” Caldara wrote.
“I believe the reason so many people distrust the news media is the lack of intellectual diversity in it,” he said, adding that this is just the kind of thinking that will get Trump reelected in 2020.
Discussing his firing in an interview with Westword published Monday, Caldara noted that the Denver post’s editorial page once provided a place to share “some different voices that are unlike what the paper’s is.”
“Megan told me I was the page’s most-read columnist. But there’s now a permanently and perpetually offended class, and in order to speak, you need to use their terminology. There’s a whole lot of you-can’t-say-that-ism going on right now,” he explained.
“With newspapers dying and having trouble, why in the world would you cancel your most-read columnist? It’s not like I cost a lot. I’m not an employee. So how does a newspaper claim to have real diversity and tolerance on its pages when it’s very intolerant and very un-diverse? The hypocrisy is right there,” he declared.
Caldara noted, however, that though the Post is “a liberal paper with a liberal editorial page and a lot of left-of-center readers,” he would rather have continued having his columns published there than a conservative outlet.
“I don’t own the paper, and they have the right to hire and fire whoever they wish. But I didn’t know the official policy of the Denver Post is that you have to use soft speak, and that anything that alludes to the war of words on transgender issues means you get fired,” Caldara told Westword.
“I think this is why so many people hate the press,” he concluded. “Because they don’t see the press. They see the speech police.”
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